Weight is a touchy subject (we know). Nobody wants to be told to lose weight, regardless of whether it comes from their mother or their doctor.
But for patients with heart failure, losing weight could have a major impact on treatment and recovery. Cardiologist Dennis A. Goodman, MD, explains why extra weight causes problems for heart failure and how patients with heart failure can manage their weight.
Your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body to all of your muscles and tissues. When your body has extra weight, that means extra tissue. The heart then has to work extra to pump enough blood to all of the body’s tissues, which essentially exhausts the heart muscle over time. (Here’s more details about how heart failure affects the body.)
The first step to managing heart failure is getting to a healthy body weight if you’re overweight.
Then it’s critical to weigh yourself every day, because small increases in weight can indicate your heart failure isn’t being well managed, and you might need to adjust your medications or make other lifestyle changes.
Natural weight fluctuation is normal throughout the day, so weigh yourself on the same scale at the same time to get a consistent picture. If your weight moves up or down by more than three pounds, contact your physician.
It might seem excessive to notify a doctor about a few little pounds, but changes in weight can accumulate and become dangerous for a person with heart failure. Your doc would much rather help you make adjustments in your treatments now than deal with a more urgent crisis later.
For more advice on living with heart failure, here are heart-healthy habits for treating heart failure.